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Everything posted by Andrew

  1. Andrew

    A Quiet Passion

    I suspect the latest Emily Dickinson biopic will engender a similar love/hate response: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/05/wild-nights-with-emily-dickinson-comedy-with-earnest-intent/
  2. It was hard to watch, and painful as this character's descent has been, I found it psychologically convincing: bloodlust in response to the killing of your buddies is as timeless as the Iliad, on top of a genetic predisposition to madness, and a moral conviction that one cannot do wrong in grasping what is rightfully yours. Heartbreaking, but plausible.
  3. Andrew


    Ah, that one - as I recall, the Harvest God myth is one of the oldest in traditional Japanese animism. So I think the quartet's surprise has to do with the Professor equating them with a deity. It's quite an honor and one to be approached with reverence. That's my take on it anyway...
  4. Andrew


    Brian, can you be more specific about the scene? Is it the one early in the film (the children's song about the moon) or near the end (about the white hare and the harvest god, or something else entirely?
  5. Busy time for admin travels: I'll be here for the next 11 days, then mostly off the grid from May 24th to June 1st. But till then, please don't hesitate to PM me with any concerns, and I'll be popping in at least twice daily.
  6. Andrew

    Hail Satan?

    Thanks! And thanks for mentioning her other work - I meant to add that to my viewing list after coming home from the festival, so I'll do that right now...
  7. I'm sorry if I missed this, but what length blurbs are we aiming for?
  8. I really appreciate your thoughtful responses, Brian. I waited 12 hours before responding, because 1) I was freaking tired after a hell of a work week, and 2) I wanted more time for cogitation. The bit about The Negro Soldier is fascinating. Like you, I wonder if Capra was compensating for early stereotyping in his films. As far as your responses to the three examples I gave: Example One passed by very briskly and could conceivably be a comment on Donald's disenfranchisement, but at the time it felt like a joke at Donald's expense. Example Two felt very unambiguously like Capra was caving in to stereotypes about African Americans bilking the system. (I like how some comedians will talk about making sure that their comedy punches up at people in power rather than punching down at the disenfranchised, and in both these instances, it felt as though Capra was punching down.) Your broader comments about representation in art are fair ones and something I've thought about quite a bit since watching Raoul Peck's James Baldwin film (I Am Not Your Negro) last year, as well as with the fallout from "me too" in Hollywood. And (surprise, surprise) I don't have a comprehensive response. I can only say that there are some instances of this in early Hollywood that are so repellent that they poison the whole film. And for me, I think this Capra film is one of them. (I also recall a screwball comedy with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant - Philadelphia Story, maybe? - that I turned off right at the beginning after it played domestic violence for laughs.) The question that helps guide me - for what it's worth - is would I be comfortable watching this film with the audience represented and singing its praises afterwards? But the representation question is an extremely tough one. Luther and Voltaire were anti-semites; for me, this poisons much of Luther's writings, while it doesn't seem to infect Voltaire's Candide, for instance. (I'd love to hear Beth's and Ken's thoughts here on Shakespeare in Othello and Merchant of Venice here.) And I have no doubt that much of what we accept in contemporary cinema as the grammar of the time will be repugnant to woke audiences 20 years from now, when it comes to the male gaze.
  9. Andrew

    Hail Satan?

    So this is my favorite new documentary of 2019 so far. Director Penny Lane shows great skill in storytelling, editing, comic timing, and music selection in narrating the rise of the Satanic Temple (TST). I normally don't think of documentaries as a comic medium, but this film is very funny. And from my limited interactions with the subjects of the documentary (one of the chaps featured briefly in the film is a friend of mine on Facebook and a co-writer at Patheos Nonreligious), they feel they were fairly represented. No doubt, the subject matter is an aversive one for many participants here, but I suspect many who approach the film open-minded will be surprised in a good way. First, those here who are politically left of center and/or are horrified by the ascendance of the Evangelical-Republican-Capitalist industrial complex in America will see that they have a political ally in TST. Second, those interested in the emergence of new religions will likely be engaged by this profile of a new religion growing from a few dudes in Tallahassee to 300K members worldwide. Third, those like me who lived their adolescence through the Satanic Panic may find this film's take on this phenomenon instructive. (Also, I didn't know until doing research before seeing this film that TST is non-theistic and non-supernatural, employing God and Satan as storytelling metaphors. The film does a good job in laying this out, though Lane could've been clearer in distinguishing TST from Satanic groups that do believe in a literal Prince of Darkness.) This was also a gratifying film critic milestone for me, as I believe it's the first time a director has tweeted a link to my review. Here it is: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/04/full-frame-dispatch-2-hail-satan/
  10. So, today I rewatched You Can't Take It with You and was struck by its casual, implicit racism. This shows up a few times in how the two black characters, Donald and Rheba, are treated: - When we see the men entering jail, Donald makes a comment to the effect that he's 'home again.' - Donald makes a couple of passing comments about bilking the system and living on government handouts. - At the big family dining table (where there's room for non-family members, too), room is never made for Donald or Rheba. They are only there to serve. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this, but this will lead me to put this film at the bottom of my voting list, hoping that it drops out of the Top 25. I know that racial and gender representation has a long, ignoble history in American cinema, but I'd rather not celebrate a film where this is blatantly problematic.
  11. Jessica and I loved this episode as well - a satisfying focus on characters before the grand battle sequence to come.
  12. I guess this fortune writer was a fan of A Serious Man...
  13. Aw, I hate to hear that about Scott - a delightful fellow, with impressive film knowledge and taste (with talent to communicate both). I'd love to meet - I'll message you before my next trip over the mountains.
  14. Fascinating list. I'd love to write about 1. Madadayo, 2. one of the Ozu films, and maybe a third film if needed.
  15. Welcome, Marcianne! It's nice to see someone from my neighborhood - I live across the mountains in Johnson City, but trek to Asheville a couple of times monthly to see films to review (and would often chat movies and beer with your Mountain Xpress colleague, Scott, at Bruisin' Ales).
  16. Jessica and I felt the same way - the dialogue seemed largely functional, lacking the wit and spark from that in previous seasons. I hope it improves for the final five episodes, now that the exposition is done and the characters are in their places.
  17. I feel a mild excitement for this, probably as a remnant of my childhood love for the originals. And it was nice to see Billy Dee Williams in the trailer. But I feel way more enthusiasm for, say, Game of Thrones' conclusion and (even moreso) the Deadwood film next month.
  18. That's splendid! I'm so happy for you, and I look forward to your reports.
  19. Andrew

    Woman at War

    I thought this was a pretty wonderful film out of Iceland. It manages to converse about arguably the most important issue of our lifetimes, climate change, in a way that isn't preachy. The director, Benedikt Erlingsson, has a terrifically idiosyncratic sense of style - at first, I thought he was aiming for Brechtian, but I think he just has an odd aesthetic sensibility. And his lead actress is terrific. Here's my full review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/03/woman-at-war-my-favorite-icelandic-eco-fable/
  20. Ha! Thanks for giving me plenty of music to track down. I know that Nico Muhly has also contributed film music here and there, including the score for Lonergan's fabulous Margaret. He was also one of the subjects in the chapter on prodigies in Andrew Solomon's superlative, insight-rich book on out of the ordinary children and their parents Far from the Tree.
  21. And now for something completely different... I've started re-reading Harold Schonberg's The Lives of the Great Composers, and his intro casts doubt on the idea that our current classical music scene has an enduring pioneer. I'm inclined to agree; much as I enjoy certain pieces by John Adams, Philip Glass, and Henryk Gorecki, I don't consider them on a par with Berlioz or Ravel, let alone the three Bs (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms). Perhaps this is middlebrow of me, but I wonder if the music that will endure that was composed in my lifetime will be film music by the likes of John Williams, and a bit earlier, by Bernard Herrmann. As far as personal favorites composed in my lifetime, I would say Adam's Nixon in China, Gorecki's Third Symphony, Philip Glass' Powaqqatsi, and Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this.
  22. Did you see the original Gloria? I'm hearing this is pretty great, too, but that it's almost a shot-for-shot of Lelio's original, so I've held back from seeing the remake - apart from an acting showcase for Moore, Turturro, et al, I'm left wondering what was the point?
  23. Andrew


    I hope you're wrong with the Shyamalan comment - my impression is that Peele has far more ideas up his sleeve, and is far smarter and more creative overall. I still think Rod Serling is a fairer comparison, but he may prove better than that.
  24. Andrew


    I thought Get Out was the best horror film of 2017 - perhaps a low bar to set, since it's far from my favorite genre - but I thought it was exceptionally well-crafted, with an excellent performance by Daniel Kaluuya, as well as having a terrific social message that is as far from preachy as one can get. So I was very pleased to find Us to be even better. As I wrote in my review, I suspect it won't be as popular, because Get Out's commentary on white appropriation of black culture is far more palatable than Us' implication of its entire viewing audience - and the need for revolt by the proletariat does not go down easy in a country still terrified by the word socialism. Lupita Nyong'o is superb here, having the added challenge of playing the lead character Adelaide, as well as her creepy double. Here's my review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/03/we-have-met-the-enemy-and-it-is-us/
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